LABOR: D-Day in Detroit

The peace negotiations took on the color of desperation. Yet the last-minute dickering continued—for the alternative might well prove to be the biggest, longest and costliest strike, or series of strikes, the U.S. had ever seen.

In their struggle with General Motors, first target among the auto industry's Big Three, the United Automobile Workers played a last diplomatic trump card— an offer to arbitrate. But the union demanded that the arbiters have access to General Motors' books—a provision that was anathema to the company.

If war came, the battle lines were drawn up. The opposing generals were U.A.W.'s Walter Reuther v. General...